Baiwei (Little Newport Street) | Sichuanese
As voted in the Top 100 Cheap Eats in TimeOut magazine.
“Revolution is a dinner party, but if you dine here we expect you to pay.”
So asserts a witty-but-shouty sign at Baiwei on Little Newport Street. Let’s just say their décor’s communist sensibilities are served with a side order of humour…and heat.
Opening in 2013, Baiwei is the latest addition to the Barshu Group’s portfolio of restaurants (they of Baozi Inn and Barshu fame) and the most affordable. The small, café-esque spot, emblazoned with wall paintings depicting Mao-era works, is popular with young Chinese Londoners. Fun Fact – Maoist art is actually something of an ironic hipster trend in China.
If mouth-tingling spice is your thing, Baiwei’s menu is a love letter to fiery Sichuan cuisine – plus it comes with a pedigree. Acclaimed (and award winning) food writer and Sichuan goddess Fuschia Dunlop was brought on board to consult, lending her expertise to their dishes.
The menu is small-ish (by Chinatown standards) and focuses largely on simple, but flavour-dense suppers and street food snacks, most of which are slowly stewed or cooked.
Don’t be fooled by the homely, innocent name of Granny’s Stewed Beef with Sweet Potato Noodles, it’s a soup with attitude – vivid scarlet broth enveloping chunks of just-falling-apart beef, bright spring onions and tangles of translucent noodles. Go diving with your chopsticks to fish around for tasty morsels.
From Spicy Pig’s Ear Salad to Fragrant and Hot Pig’s Trotter, expect to find nose-to-tail dishes at Baiwei, along with dry meat and seafood sizzling wok specialties, all of which are served up with Sichuan soul. ‘Baiwei’ means ‘100 flavours’ in Mandarin so rest assured everything is packed with sensational authentic tastes, so you’ll always leave a happy customer.
But, before leaving, remember, like the sign says, they expect you to pay. And it’s worth every penny.